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Mental Mondays: Is Body Positivity Just A Trend For Social Approval?

Mental Mondays: Is Body Positivity Just A Trend For Social Approval?


he world has witnessed a number of body-centered trends like the era of size zero runway models who created unrealistic representations of the female body. In addition to that, Black women were misinformed about the beauty of their natural hairs, colorism, and many more. Thus, it was with enthusiasm that the body positivity movement was accepted when it came on board. Finally, we had a safe haven for humans of all sizes and nationalities to feel welcome and heave a sigh of relief as they embark on a self-acceptance journey.

It doesn’t matter your body type, gender, or skin tone, everyone is getting bold to own their beautiful and they aren’t scared to live it out. That might include finally wearing a sexy outfit you never thought was possible or taking a natural selfie with acne in full view.

What is body positivity?

Photo: Polina Tankilevitch / Pexels

Body positivity is a movement that encourages individuals from all walks of life to accept and love their bodies regardless of their perceived weaknesses. This movement kicked off in 2012 when influencers initiated the cause on social media — #bodypositivity — and it made a buzz as expected. Fast forward to 2021 and everyone is still embracing body positivity, thank God for that!

Of course, the body positivity train still has a long way to go as there’re still misrepresentations of what beauty should be. However, it has indeed made an impact, especially in the world of fashion which has made more room for diversity.

At least one in five adults you meet has obvious insecurities pertaining to their body image. As expected, this circumstance eventually takes its toll on their mental health and overall performance. That’s why the message of body positivity has been found to be not only healthy but also helpful.

Here are ways the body positivity trend has affected our mental health…

#1. Created a sense of belonging

Photo: Adrienn / Pexels

For so long, we’ve been made to turn our backs on our scars because they were perceived as a thing of shame. Not anymore! Body shaming is now frowned upon and there’s a fast-growing supportive community of body-positive fellows that are available to cheer you on when your tank starts to dry out.

Remember: Healthy self-esteem is formed from within and not based on external validation. However, being a part of a community that keeps you positive about your body is an added advantage.

#2. Made more room for inclusivity

Photo: Anna Shvets / Pexels

Thanks to the body positivity trend, there’s now more room for inclusivity. This also means that more products are available for a wider range of individuals. From beauty products that include a wider palette of skin tones, to fashion brands creating clothes across sizes and gender, everyone finally has a place. Yes, girl, you’re not too big to rock that dress. Not ever and especially not in 2021!

Body Positivity Vs. Body Enhancement

Photo: Anna Shvets / Pexels

It’s been reported that most individuals who opt for body enhancement procedures tell plastic surgeons to make them look like their idolized celebrities or social media influencers. Even these influencers do not look like “themselves” every day. Research has also shown there were more than 17.7 million surgical and minimally-invasive cosmetic procedures performed in the United States in 2018, a number that has risen steadily over the years. An ironic situation that shouldn’t be swept under the carpet. Are we again creating a new set of bodies to update the catalog of already set beauty standards or are we truly on a journey towards self-acceptance?

Does this counter the message of body positivity?

Photo: cottonbro / Pexels

The simple answer is No. According to dropshipping platform Oberlo, there are 3.78 billion social media users worldwide in 2021—a five percent increase from a year ago. This result means that as social media users continue to grow sporadically, there are more people with varying schools of thought dominant in their spheres. While there are individuals who are learning to accept their scars as beauty rather than flaws, there’s also a paralleled community of people who subscribe to body enhancement procedures. There are many reasons why an individual might need body enhancement ranging from serious medical issues to poor body image and this doesn’t call for bashing or bullying.

The reason for this irony might also be because a number of our youths are more interested in jumping on a trend and amassing followership, rather than actually promoting the original cause. For example, there’re influencers (clout chasers) who purposely stick out their bellies to join the #Bodypositivity or plus size movement, when in real life they aren’t built that way. This form of awareness might garner applause but to individuals struggling with eating disorders, it might be triggering to realize it was a publicity stunt and might worsen their self-image and confidence.

Is Body Positivity anti-body grooming?

Photo: cottonbro / Pexels

As with every movement, there’re the set of people who veer off on the extreme side of things and these extremists have been found to ignore the act of self-grooming. Body Positivity isn’t exclusive to grooming oneself, and it doesn’t support ignoring medical complications that arise from self-negligence.

On the contrary, being positive about your body is associated with an increase in self-care activities and improved lifestyle choices like a healthy diet and regular exercise routines. There’s still room to dye your hair, use anti-wrinkle creams, and hit the gym, and that doesn’t translate to a poor self-image. What you value, you try to maintain.

The perception that a person who undergoes body enhancement procedures isn’t accepting oneself could be judgmental. The key here is to do whatever boosts your confidence as you accept your body on your terms. I added more weight than I bargained for postpartum. While I would love to lose all that arm fat, I couldn’t be talked into hating or being ashamed of myself. If, and when, a person in my shoes decides to hit the gym vigorously, it shouldn’t be met with negativity.

As we accept ourselves slowly but surely, being referred to as your body type shouldn’t be considered an “insult”. If I addressed you as slim or light-skinned (in a colorist society), you’d be pleased because it sounds like a compliment. However, when referred to as fat or black, it’s likely to come off as offensive.

A not-so-soft reminder: “Black is Black. Fat is fat. Black doesn’t mean inferior and fat doesn’t mean ugly.”

Featured Image: Billie | Unsplash

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